seems appropriate to explore the world of chocolate during
the month of Valentines Day, the wid-winter celebration
of love. Some believe that chocolate is a natural aphrodisiac
however there is little scientific evidence to back
this up. Whether or not you believe that chocolate is an aphrodisiac
or not, many can not argue with the fact that chocolate, particularly
good chocolate holds a special place in our hearts.
Over the course of many years we at Glutenfreeda.com
have tasted many different kinds of chocolate
divine and others leaving something to be desired. It is clearly
evident that the outcome of a recipe is greatly influenced
by the quality of chocolate used. An added advantage (other
than taste, of course), of using premium chocolate in your
baking is that most premium chocolate use pure ingredients,
avoiding possible gluten contamination. This month wed
like to highlight three of our favorites so that you, too,
can enjoy the best of the best.
Scharffen Berger Chocolate
Score 5 (Rated 1-5, 5 being the best)
Berger Chocolate Maker is an American made chocolate manufactured
in San Francisco, California. Scharffen Berger chocolates
are by far our favorite chocolate. The quality and rich flavors
of their chocolate products are a reflection of the care they
take in selecting the highest quality ingredients. The dark
chocolate is composed of cacao beans, sugar, cocoa butter
and very small amounts of vanilla and lecithin. They use only
cacoa beans that undergo thorough fermentation. This process
takes more time and effort on the part of the growers (resulting
in a higher priced chocolate), however without fermentation
cacao beans develop little flavor. Scharffen Berger also uses
whole vanilla beans from Tahiti and Madagascar, a rare practice
in the world of commercially produced chocolate. They also
make chocolate in small batches giving them the ability to
pay personal attention to detail and ultimately ending up
with a superior product.
Scharffen Berger clearly states that there
is no gluten in their chocolate. Their ingredients
cacao beans, sugar, vanilla bean, cocoa butter and soy lecithin
cannot and do not produce gluten. They also do not
have any cereal grain or corn present anywhere in their manufacturing
facility at any time. Unfortunately they cannot guarantee
that all of their products are completely nut and dairy
free. Their manufacturing facility is completely free of nuts
and dairy. However, some of their products are wrapped off-site.
The machinery used to wrap some of their products is also
used to wrap other products which contain nuts and/or dairy.
While these machines are cleaned before their products are
wrapped, they cannot guarantee that their will not be a trace
amount of nuts and/or dairy in their products. If diary or
nuts is a concern, try the 9.7 oz. Home Chef Bar or a larger
size. These bars are made and wrapped in-house and therefore
are 100% nut and dairy free. Additionally, their cocoa powder
is also dairy & nut free.
Scharffen Berger is available in some specialty
food stores or well-stocked grocery stores. You can also purchase
Scharffen Berger products at www.scharffenberger.com.
Average cost for a 9.7oz. bar is $7.95 US.
Valrhona Gastronomie Score
is also an awesome chocolate. This wonderful chocolate comes
from the famous French Chocolatier in Tain-lHermitage
near Lyon and Rhone river. Valrhona
is recognized by leading chefs and enthusiasts throughout
the world as one of the finest chocolates manufactured today.
It has a well-rounded, powerful, slightly bitter taste which
shines in confections and desserts. It is very smooth and
velvety with a slight floral taste. Both Scharffen Berger
and Valrhona are best used when chocolate is the ultimate
star in the recipe (ie., brownies, fondue, chocolate cakes,
truffles, etc.). Valrhona also is very strict in its specifications
from its partner plantations as well as their own plantations
to ensure proper fermentation and quality of the cacao beans
Valrhona products can be purchased at Williams
Sonoma, some fine specialty food shops and also at www.valrhona.com.
Average cost for an 8.8oz. is about $9.50US.
Lindt Chocolates Score 3
is a Swiss chocolate company that has been making chocolates
since 1845. Lindt is one of the more common imported chocolates
in the United States so it tends to be relatively easy to
find in most well-stocked stores and specialty food stores.
Chocolat Lindt Excellence is Lindts dark chocolate.
The flavor is very rich but is not a smooth as the above two
chocolates. It is a little sweeter (a bit too much if you
ask me), than Valrhona and Scharffen Berger.
Lindt chocolates are more readily available.
You can purchase their products at many well-stocked specialty
food stores. Average cost for a 3.5oz. bar is about $2.25US.
There are many, many other chocolates out
there. These three just happen to be some of our favorites.
Keep in mind if chocolate is the star of your dessert
or confection be sure to use the best chocolate you can get
your hands on. It truly makes a world of difference!